Heqanakht Account VII

Period: Middle Kingdom

Dynasty: Dynasty 12

Reign: reign of Senwosret I

Date: ca. 1961–1917 B.C.

Geography: From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Tomb of Ipy (TT 315, MMA 516B), Tomb of Meseh, MMA excavations, 1921–22

Medium: Papyrus, ink

Dimensions: H. 27 (10 7/8 in); w. 19 cm (7 1/2 in)

Credit Line: Rogers Fund and Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1922

Accession Number: 22.3.522


Heqanakht was a native of Thebes (present day Luxor) during the early twelfth dynasty. As "ka-servant" of a high official he was responsible for the high official's statue cult and the administration of the land and income that had been endowed to maintain this cult. The letters and accounts written by Heqanakht and one or more scribes on sheets of papyrus were discovered by Museum excavator Herbert E. Winlock in the excavation season of 1921-1922 in the tomb of Meseh, who had a side passage and crypt in the tomb complex of the vizier Ibi, one of the rock cut tombs along the cliff overlooking the temples at Deir el-Bahri. The documents - some still folded, tied and sealed, when found - provide unique insights into the domestic and financial affairs of an average middle class family that lived almost four thousand years ago.

This single sheet of papyrus is inscribed with an accounting of emmer wheat and flax owed, apparently to Heqanakht, but a certain Sitnebsekhtu. On the verso is the title of the document: Writing of emmer that is in Great Wind; what is owed by Sitnebsekhtu. The recto enumerates the grain according to the number of sacks in each of several locations, including a storehouse and the house of Mentunakht, then counts sheaves of flax. It ends with instructions about the payment of salaries.

Lines 9-11 and line 15 contain some of the earliest uses of specific month-names (e.g. "the first day of Shef-bedet"), although elsewhere Heqanakht uses the more common construction of Nth month of Season Y (e.g. 2nd month of the Harvest season).